Category Archives: Local Coastal Plan

To love the coast we had to save it

Richard Retecki and Carol Benfell, Sonoma County Gazette

Public involvement is also essential in tracking coastal plan permits and approvals, plan development and implementation and its local and cumulative impacts throughout the county coastal zone. The 1980 Local Coastal Plan had 95 people serving on nine citizen advisory committees and hundreds more were involved.

It’s taken the efforts of hundreds of people, organizations and government agencies, working together for more than sixty years, to preserve our magnificent, dynamic, and unique Sonoma County coast.

Now the Sonoma County Local Coastal Plan, an integral part of that decades-long preservation effort, is being revisited by county officials, and changes will be made. It will be important to be watchful and mindful that we do not lose what so many have fought to save.

Some of our coastal parks date back 90 years, to the very first days of the State Parks system — the 19-mile-long Sonoma Coast State Beach, one of the most visited state parks in California; Fort Ross Historic State Park, Kruse Rhododendron Reserve and Salt Point State Park.

In 1962, Doran Beach in Bodega Bay became the first county park to be created for public use. Gualala Point, Westside Park and Stillwater Cove followed Doran Beach as county coastal parks.

One of the biggest threats to the coast – and county residents — came when Pacific Gas & Electric in 1958 proposed a nuclear power plant at Bodega Head, right on top of the San Andreas Fault.

Bodega Bay residents fought back, led by Rose Gaffney and Hazel Mitchell, joined quickly by brothers Karl and Bill Kortum, and forestry student David Pesonen.

Their efforts launched a four-year-long public and legal battle, joined by The Sierra Club, The UC Marine Lab at Bodega Bay, and others. In 1962, PG&E reluctantly abandoned its plan. Watch Bill Kortum talk about the battle to save Bodega Head

At about the same time, plans were underway for massive housing developments along the coast. In the mid-1960s, the Jenner Bay Corporation proposed a 1,100 acre, 2,000-home project, with condominiums at Goat Rock, a golf course at Shell Beach, and a shopping center and Safeway at the intersection of Highway 1 and Highway 116. A 3,600-acre large lot subdivision was slated for Willow Creek.

Read the rest at

The endless battle to save our Sonoma Coast: Keeping an eye on the Local Coastal Plan update

Tom Roth, Redwood Chapter Conservation Chair

Link to Permit Sonoma’s Local Coastal Plan Update page.

Very few people are familiar with Rancho Del Mar, a place no longer found on Sonoma County maps. It was a sprawling sheep ranch — 5,200 acres — running 10 miles along the northern Sonoma County coast. But when a development company purchased the land in 1963, and renamed it Sea Ranch, it sparked a battle not resolved until 1981 and resulted in the nation’s strongest coastal protection law.

Sea Ranch was envisioned as residential development that blended in with the crashing waves, tall grasses and redwood-studded hills. Yet it engendered legal battles with consequences far beyond its vast ocean horizons. Thanks to the efforts of former County Supervisor Bill Kortum and a merry band of environmentalists calling themselves COAAST, court victories locally increased public participation in planning processes, cut the size of the development in half and eventually secured public access to six Sea Ranch beaches. Statewide, COAAST and an alliance of environmental groups scored even bigger, passing Proposition 20 in 1972, which created the first Coastal Commission.

Four years later, the state legislature passed the Coastal Act, making the Coastal Commission permanent and providing a framework for counties to create their own Local Coastal Programs to ensure permanent protection of the coast’s historic and biotic resources.

The Coastal Commission certified Sonoma County’s first Local Coastal Plan (LCP) in 1980. Three times in the 90s and in 2001, the LCP was updated to reflect changes in the county’s General Plan. The current LCP update process actually began in 2001 and may be completed this summer. Now the public is invited to comment on a Public Review Draft prior to it going to the supervisors (see meeting dates above).
Continue reading The endless battle to save our Sonoma Coast: Keeping an eye on the Local Coastal Plan update

Warning: County rushing to approve Local Coastal Plan with insufficient time for public input

By Preserve Rural Sonoma County

“Know the coast as the geographic soul of California. You can’t take our relationship with the [California] coast for granted because it took a lot of sweat, blood and tears to preserve it so we have what we have today. These things didn’t just happen. The coast is what it is because a lot of people worked really hard and sacrificed to protect it. And if we want it to be there for our children, we have to keep fighting to protect it. In that way, the coast is never saved, it’s always being saved.” Peter Douglas, past Executive Director, California Coastal Commission.

Four years ago, a citizens group provided input on the Local Coastal Plan (LCP) draft and met with planners in Timber Cove to express concerns and were told their input would be included in the next iteration of the LCP. This input was completely ignored and left out of the current draft.

The County is trying to push this through for a final vote before giving adequate time for the public to digest this document and provide meaningful input that can be incorporated into the final version. It’s a long and very important document that will have effects for years to come.

Please take action. The public needs time to review.

Local Coastal Plan Update
On September 26, 2019 Permit Department posted the current 2019 Local Coastal Plan (LCP) Update. It is substantially revised and merits rounds of public workshops that have been proposed for October and November.

The timeline proposed for public comment prior to the revised draft being heard before the Planning Commission has not been clearly defined. This is now a complex 400 page document with critical policy issues. The suggested timeline is insufficient. The first LCP, drafted over 20 years ago, had 95 people working on it, including 5 technical scientific committees, 4 citizen committees, and a few other categories. It took them 4 years to create protections for this unique region.

It is important that adequate time be provided to ensure “meaningful public participation” and provide citizen input that can be incorporated into the final version, which is mandated in the Coastal Act.

The LCP is a large document and a critical one for the Sonoma Coast as it is THE document that controls all future development for 55 miles of the Sonoma Coastal Zone and ensures equitable public access to the coast and protection of critical coastal resources (including environmentally sensitive habitat areas). It is the controlling document for the Coast going forward and we will have to live with/by this document for the foreseeable future.

We deserve to be allotted the time and the public participation process
commensurate with the document’s critical importance to the future of the

Get Involved – Please Take the Following 2 Initial Steps:
1. Take the PRMD LCP Survey to request that workshops and written comment period is provided for and ask for at least 4 months to allow for comment. Get on the mailing list for LCP updates such as schedule of workshops or hearings by going to and in the right column there is a “Follow Us” link where you can submit your email address.
2. Email cc Lynda
Hopkins: and Coastal Commission
Stephanie Rexing: . Begin by stating why protection of the Sonoma Coast matters to you and then request that there be meaningful public participation in the LCP update process as required by the Coastal Act. Ask that the following provisions be made for the comment period:
a) Adequate time is provided to the public to review the Updated Local Coastal Plan prior to public workshops that are scheduled (minimum of 4 months from date of release – September 26th, 2019)
b) That the County schedule a minimum of 5 public workshops – 3 on Coast in Bodega Bay, Timber Cove, & Sea Ranch and 2 inland and that these be held after the 4 month period to allow the public to digest and research the issues. Staff has had 5 years to do this and now it is our turn to get into the details.
c) Ask that the County form an Advisory Committee to the Coastal MAC (Municipal Advisory Committee) made up of a variety of citizens from throughout the County who have expertise in land use, ocean policy, conservation, affordable housing, fire safety, Agriculture issues and water quality. (For the original draft of our Local Coastal Plan there were at least 5 Technical Advisory Committees formed, each made up of 8-12 citizens with expertise in the above listed areas. No such committees have been formed for this current updated LCP.)

Thank you for taking action and sharing.